Step Into the OASIS
Every now and then, a book will come along that is just crying out to be turned into a movie. For me that book was Ready Player One, the science fiction novel by Ernest Cline which was released in 2011. The book quickly became a global success, made its way onto New York Times Bestseller list & rightly cemented Ernest Cline as king of the geeks. Whilst researching for this review I discovered that in December 2017 Ernest Cline confirmed that he was writing a sequel.
The novel itself is a treasure trove of 80's & 90's pop culture references & when it came to turning this book in to a movie, there was only really one man for the job. In March 2015, Steven Spielberg signed on to direct & a release date of March 29, 2018 was set.
My excitement for this movie couldn't have been higher; maybe only an Avengers or Star Wars movie could have topped it, and as a self proclaimed geek myself I made sure I got along to see it as soon as I could. Check out the trailer below:
**Warning...before you go any further, this review will contain MINOR spoilers - so if you want to go in to this movie without knowing anything, then stop reading now and come back after you've seen it **
Set In the year 2045, the world has been gripped by an energy crisis from the depletion of fossil fuels and the consequences of global warming, and overpopulation, causing widespread social problems and economic stagnation. To escape the decline their world is facing, people turn to the OASIS, a virtual reality simulator accessible by players using visors and haptic technology such as gloves. It functions both as an MMORPG and as a virtual society, with its currency being the most stable in the real world. It was created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance) who, when he died, had announced in his will to the public that he had left an Easter egg inside OASIS, and the first person to find it would inherit his entire fortune and the corporation. The story follows the adventures of Wade Watts/Parzival (Tye Sheridan) and several of his allies who try to complete the game before indentured players working for a large corporation, run by Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), can do so. The movie also stars Olivia Cooke, Lena Waithe, TJ Miller & Simon Pegg.
The visuals in this movie are absolutely stunning. Spielberg has done a fantastic job of re-creating the OASIS in all its glory. I think it's pretty much exactly as I would have imagined it whilst reading the book. The movie spends much of it's time in the OASIS - probably around 75% of the movie, so it was crucial that the aesthetic of the OASIS was captured perfectly. The real world setting is also visually striking in the time we spend there, Wade's home "The Stacks" is an intimidating slum like city made up of trailer park homes that have been stacked on top of eachother like sky scrapers. It is literally exactly how I imagined it off the page, right down to his abandoned van hideout.
As for how the movie works as a whole - I thought that it worked fantastically. We are quickly brought up to speed regarding the OASIS and the events regarding the contest itself, how grim Wade's real world ls & exactly how much winning this contest means to him. His relationships with the other characters such as Aech and Art3mis seem entirely believable and engaging. He very quickly builds a bond with Art3mis and the two actors have great on screen chemistry. The initial setting of the OASIS itself did take a little getting used to for me, but after around twenty minutes I was totally engaged and couldn't take my eyes off the action.
Sure there are some changes from the book, I won't go into them in detail, but it was always going to be a hard ask to translate this book to screen. The changes that were made, in my opinion help the plot flow and also give today's generation of geeks something to geek out about with easter eggs.
The cast put in some fantastic performances all round - Sheridan & Cooke bring Parzival & Art3mis to life exactly how I imagined from the book, Ben Mendelsohn puts in a typical Mendelsohn scheming villain performance & Mark Rylance does a wonderful job in his portrayal of the eccentric genius James Halliday.
As for the references themselves - I won't spoil them all for you, but there's just about everything you can imagine; Batman, Back to the Future, Duke Nukem, GoldenEye, Akira, Godzilla & THE FREAKING T-REX FROM JURASSIC PARK! There's also a sequence that takes place in a re-creation of The Shining by Stephen King which is phenomenal & one of the most memorable scenes in the movie. It's definitely gonna take multiple viewings to catch all the references and I for one can't wait to go back and see what I can find.
For me, this movie can proudly take its place alongside the great movies of Spielberg's career; Jaws, Raiders of The Lost Ark, Saving Private Ryan & of course, Jurassic Park.
Ready Player One gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from me